Wellington Prison to close in November

BLAIR ENSOR
POLICE REPORTER
Last updated 12:44 31/05/2012
MT CRAWFORD: The prison will be closed.
ANDREW GORRIE/Dominion Post

WELLINGTON PRISON: The prison will be closed.

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Wellington Prison will close in November and the land sold as part of a major shake-up of the country's prison system.

The announcement today comes after a month of consultation about proposed changes unveiled in March.

Staff at the prison, which is also known as Mt Crawford Prison, were likely to be absorbed into Arohata and Rimutaka.

Under announcement, more than 680 prison beds will be lost across New Zealand, 300 to 400 prisoners will be affected and 125 staff will have to move or lose their jobs.

Once prisoners have been relocated the public will be able to visit the prisons before they close for good.

New Plymouth Prison will also close permanently early next year along with some parts of Arohata, Rolleston, Tongariro/Rangipo and Waikeria Prisons.

Invercargill and Auckland Prisons will be refurbished under the changes.

Department of Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said in a statement senior managers had visited every affected prison and met with staff and unions.

''These changes will improve the overall standard of New Zealand's prison system, give better working conditions for prison staff and better facilities to work with offenders and reduce reoffending,'' Mr Smith said.

"These ageing buildings were designed and built in a different time, they lack the facilities for rehabilitation we need in a modern corrections system and provide an inadequate working environment for prison staff," said Mr Smith.

"We are putting $65 million into reducing reoffending by 25 per cent over the next four years and we need modern prisons that will help us achieve our target," he said.

"Not having expensive maintenance bills for old and inefficient prison buildings means more money can be put to work in new and expanded rehabilitation programmes that will reduce reoffending".

Mr Smith said the land and buildings at New Plymouth and Wellington would be sold.

The department was working with Land Information New Zealand and the Historic Places Trust to ensure all treaty settlement and heritage obligations were met.

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- The Dominion Post

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